The end of the Korean wave

If the Korean wave, (known as Hallyu) began in the mid nineties, then it ended on February 2020, when Parasite became the first foreign film to win the academy for best film. The idea of Korean culture as something new and exciting was fading, but for a while it was the newest cultural force, with Korea leading the way when it came to innovative film, fashion and music.

the word ‘Hallyu’ refers to the spread Korean culture throughout Asia

It was quite different in the eighties. The country that everyone talked about was Japan. Japan was cool. Everyone said so. You didn’t need to have ever been to Japan to have an idea of what Japan was about. Sushi, Geisha, manga cartoons. These were well-known. And they didn’t need the Japanese government to help promote them. With Korea, it wasn’t until after the end of the country’s dictatorship that the country opened up. And by 1995, the government was funding Korean movies. An even bigger revolution was occurring in television. Sandglass was the first major TV drama with mass appeal. not just in Korea, but in other countries. Ministers realised that they could sell Korea (specifically its technology) through TV dramas that were shown across Asia. The spread of Korea had not quite reached beyond the Pacific Rim just yet.

Parasite won Best Picture in 2020, showing that Korean culture had become a global phenomenon.

By the 2000s, the music form Korea was catching on too. What was a beguiling me of techno, rap and electronica was being called “k-pop.” And then with Youtube, it was possible for this music to break through the language barrier and start to gain much wider appeal. Certainly, the internet helped to share Korean music to fans all over the world. But it’s likely that it would have taken off anyway, even without Youtube, which gave Psy’s Gangnam Style the most watched Korean music video.

Psy’s Gangnam Style broke the billion views on Youtube.

As the likes of Girls Generation, Super Junior and Big Bang were making a lot of noise in Asia, people were realising that Korea was in many ways the new country to discover. Korean restaurants were spreading fast, and kimchi became a new superfood. Again, this was no accident. the government deliberately promoted it. And for a while, it was exciting. You couldn’t move for Korean restaurants in London, even if they were churning out the same familiar food. And yet by 2017, it was starting to look as if Korean culture was losing it’s edge. BTS, Twice, Big Bang. the top Korean k-pop groups were now polished, slick, more professional than ever before, but people were criticising the methods involved in the manufacture of these acts.

One of the best K-pop groups and most original, 2NE1 have now broken up.

Was there any different about BTS that was distinctive from Super Junior? OR Big Bang? Red Velvet were just an updated version of 2NE1. The films were no longer breaking artistic ground. Meanwhile, people were using the prefix ‘K’ to describe anything that was from Korea, in attempt to sell its novelty. There was k-drama. then it was k-bbq. And K-make-up. All of it was beginning to grow tiresome. Was the only thing these products had going for them was that they were Korean? Maybe not, but it felt as though people felt they could make more money if people thought they were buying something Korean.

Everything from Korea now comes with the prefix ‘K”, in case we weren’t aware that Korea produces cosmetics, or kimchi.

Meanwhile, Japanese culture was quietly carrying on. It didn’t need an army of fans to sell its culture abroad, or government ministers to prop up its film industry. And however hard the Korean tourist board tries to sell Korean culture abroad, it’s Japan that is the first country non-Asians want to visit when they travel to the continent. No amount of B.T.S. videos are going to change that.

She’s on a working holiday!

The joys of the Asian girl on a working holiday visa in UK

Every year, some 2000 working holiday visas are granted to people aged up to 30 in some of the east Asian countries such as South Korea and Japan. The majority are here for enjoying a break from the often hectic lives they have in their own countries. Some come to learn English. Others might be here for work. The good news is that most are single and up for a good time.

But you need to know a few things so that you can make the most of the situation. A girl I met recently is on a two year working holiday in London. Sakura is in her late twenties, and she is over here to enjoy London. As well as working in the Japan Centre, Sakura also has a second job in a restaurant. Sakura* is as a good an example of the many Japanese and Korean girls who come to London.

They won’t have the best English, so bear that in mind when you come to approach them. And they will be changing jobs, moving around, perhaps doing some studying at the same time. It’s common for most girls to stay with with a ‘host’ family to help them settle in, for the first few months, and quite possibly the length of their stay. So bear that in mind too, because in these situations it’s going to be hard for you to be able turn up at the host family’s house, however much you want to have sex

It’s good to be realistic, so that you can make things easy for both of you.Let’s say you’re lucky enough to meet a nice girl from Japan and you’re both into each other. You become a couple. Then her 2 years’ are up. You try the long distance relationship and it fails. You could have spent that time getting with all the other girls you ignored when you wanted to be with her exclusively. Sometimes, it works, and a lot of girls who have a working holiday will return, especially if she likes you a lot. But bear in mind that it could go either way.

Another thing you will find is that these women have only a very basic idea of what life in the UK is actually like, because there is not much connection with the UK and their own countries. It’s hard for girls to come here and know how to make money , when the pound is an unfamiliar quantity – also they won’t really know how much money they will need until they actually live here.

Working holiday girls are easy?

Its not as though all girls on a working holiday are sluts, but some are going to be quite open to the idea of sleeping with a foreigner. You may have a good chance if you live in a nice area of London where she’s going to want to spend time in. Notting Hill (because of the film) and Camden (no idea why), are two of the places you are guaranteed to find Asian girls. Don’t go thinking they are going to sleep with you just because you gave them directions to the mall or told them which side of the escalator to go on. They won’t make it that easy for you. Most of the girls on a working holiday are fairly serious, and may only want a relationship, if they even want anything from you at all. And if I’m being honest, I’ve wasted a lot of time taking girls out to the sights of London, when I would have preferred to have taken them to a hotel.

If you’re looking to have sex with a girl on a working holiday, go for it. Although my experience is that quite a few girls from Japan are a bit shy and it will take a long time to warm them up to the idea. Or it could be simply that they don’t find me attractive. If you are a bit awkward at talking to girls cold, you can try some dating services. Japan Cupid is only worth it if you pay the membership, but you can find one or two Japanese girls who are living abroad. Otherwise, you might be lucky to find a Japanese girl who somehow has decided she is going to find the love of her life on Tinder

So in a nutshell, meeting an Asian girl on a working holiday can be a great opportunity if you are patient and able to deal with them wanting to do stuff you consider boring. But you risk becoming attached to the same girl for too much of your time, and most of the women on a working holiday are quite boring. So there you have it guys. here’s a video on the subject as well.

Hanging with Terumi Kai


At just 150 cms and slight of build, Terumu Kai makes a very big impact in the city of HEraklion, Greece. It’s here that she set up her ‘Japanese Langauge Factory; and shehas been living in Greece for the last 6 years, first teaching in person, and then solely online to a hundred or so students who have signed up for her innovative language program.

Heraklion is not a big city, although it has an airport for the tourists who flood the city in summer. When I arrive, it’s still the Christmas season so Christmas trees and lights are everywhere. Terumi’s house is off the main road, and it takes me a little more than 30 minutes to walk there from the Ibis hotel. When I get there, I’m first amazed by the size of the building, and then I’m taken aback by how slight she is (I’ve only seen her from the waist up in video call). When we take the car to go the centre, she can only just see over the steering wheel.

Terumi lives with her daughter, an exuberant half-Japanese girl I’ve seen in some of the videos on her Youtube reels, the entire upper floor is where she works. The room looks out on to the mountains in the distance, and the sea is right in front of us. Terumi has fixed her cameras and sound recording equipment above her desk so that she can produce her regular group sessions for her students. There’s an expensive sofa, BOSE entertainment centre and a full kitchen. I’ve come to her house so that I can take part in the group session, and also so that I can film a video for her Youtube channel.*

It’s when we go to the restaurant and the waiters all recognize her that I see she has become something of a celebrity on the island. Maybe that’s easy when there are only 3 Japanese people living on the island. In total. clearly, the locals aren’t sure what to make of this striking individual who knows exactly what she wants and how to get it.
An example is how she can navigate the tricky parents who think that their children can pick up the language in just a few months, for example. another is the issue of vaccination. This came up because when we got to the cafe, we were both asked to present our vaccination status. Whilst I’ve received the vaccine, Terumi tells me that she hasn’t. I ask her if she thinks that she should take it. ‘I’d rather build my immunity’, is basically what she tells me.#

Filming with Terumi for Youtube

After a dinner of grilled fish, vegetables, and the same assorted cold dishes that are served everywhere (tzatziki, taramousalata) I want to see Terumi-san in a different environment.
I’ve seen her in her house, I’ve seen her at the wheel of her black VW polo. but I want to know how she acts in a more relaxed spot.

Terumi has so ,much natural energy that you get caught up in it.

We walk up the hill to the commercial centre, several terraces are full of people sitting outside on the pavements. It soon becomes clear that the Greeks really love to sit around – they make it their habit to sit in the same place for simply hours.
Terumi glides in to the place, and when she is unable to present a vaccination certificate, she is unflappable when told that she is restricted from accessing the main section of the restaurant. After this little bit of bureaucracy is over, Terumi glances through the menu and chooses something gin-based and fruity.

We look at how the Greeks are essentially very conservative. And they are even more like this on the islands, where most people are stuck in their ways. This rigid rule-following is totally odds with her approach to language acquisition. In fact, I’m wondering why someone so individual should want to live here. The idea of Terumi having a relationship with one of these Cretans is almost laughable. But after spotting some overly swarthy-looking Greeks, she tells me that they use their parents cars, never have any money or ambition. I start to feel somewhat guilty for agreeing with her about this. . But then again, the Greeks I meet are not in any way friendly towards me.
Sadly, I didn’t get the sense that I was especially welcome in Greece, although maybe the lockdown has made this situation worse. What I did notice is that the Greeks have become intensely zealous about all kinds of petty bureaucracy. something to bear in mind if you do happen to travel here.

With absolute confidence in her method, Terumi is convinced that most Japanese language learners will develop quicker if they focus on communication instead of traditional grammar.

Some background into how I began studying Japanese. Growing up with the idea that Japanese was hard to learn, I never really took it seriously. Even when I had a Japanese girlfriend, I only spent a little time on it. There weren’t many options for learning Japanese as a second language, most of the courses were following textbooks. In fact, even when I booked tutors online through programs like preply, I had to try out several Japanese tutors, most of whom didn’t really know what to teach me and didn’t have any goal for me to work towards. Whereas, the main difference with Terumi is that her course is focused on getting you to be a confident Japanese speaker.

With regards to the course, the first thing to note is that it’s expensive. you pay 3000 dollars for the first stage of the program. that’s a lot of money, and some people will think that they can learn Japanese only from watching youtube videos. Unfortunately, without the regular practice and contact with a teacher, you’re going to be wasting time this way.

For more information on Japan Language Factory, please go to:

*Here is our video:

Selfridges Wardrobe Makeover Review

If you’re not sure what an image consultant is, or what they do, you’re not the only one. I visited Selfridges Oxford Street for a wardrobe makeover. You have the option of booking an appointment with a personal shopper (minimum spend of £2000), or the wardrobe makeover, which is free. Naturally, I didn’t want to feel under pressure to spend that kind of money.

I opted for the free option. Although I was certainly expecting to have to spend some kind of money along the way. The wardrobe makeover is for 2 hours, so you have enough time to look at the clothes, try them on, and discuss with the stylist about which clothes suit you and make you look your best.

Selfridges has one floor given over to menswear, as opposed to two for women. This implies that men are slightly left out when it comes to shoppingand indeed, fashion in general (which I’ve long believed is the case). My personal shopper Han asked me some questions about my budget and the kind of amount I’d be comfortable spending. I felt that £1000 would be a good amount to walk away with at least one really good outfit that would give me some impressive style for the money. In reality, this was very optimistic. As a trendy department store, Selfridges skews to top-end names for men’s fashion, most of which is very fashion forward.

Han was my wardrobe consultant.

Feeling sympathetic to my budget, Han steered me towards a couple of ‘reasonably’ priced brands. The first was a British fashion label called ‘prevu’ – affordable by most people’s standards. Han picked out a nice cream-coloured jacket. It fitted me well, but I wasn’t loving it. A few years’ back, I was told that whenever you buy new clothes, they need to be ‘must have.’ This jacket definitely didn’t make me feel like that. So it was back on the shelf with that choice.

The prevu jacket that I debated buying, I know nothing about this brand.

Even for ready to wear, Selfridges offers little for budget shoppers. Gone are familiar brands such as Ted Baker and Tommy Hilfiger. We mainly avoided Paul Smith. I’ve liked some of his clothes before, but most of the new styles seemed overly out there – too busy, according to Han. I was starting to think we’d find nothing that would be suitable – both in terms of price and style.

We moved on to All Saints. I’ve never really cared for it this brand – too British, too boring, what someone would wear if they wanted to look cool without standing out. After trying on a particularly boring grey coat that did nothing for me, we managed to choose a burgundy tee (45) and a pair of slim-fit black jeans (£99).

I was quite taken with the styles at Eleventy, but not so much the price. A sheepskin lined puffer for £1000 was just one example of crazy pricing – you could probably find the same item for half the price online.

We passed one more luxury brand, French fashion house Sandro. Han persuaded me to buy a zip-up cardigan even though it was expensive. that said, I recognized it as a key-piece, something you would always need in your wardrobe and could wear all year round. I was really taking a risk on it – spending three times the amount I would have considered it worth.

Sandro half zip cardigan (£269).

Back in the fitting rooms of the personal shopping area, Han took photos so I could see exactly how I looked in the different clothes. Sometimes, store lighting can be misleading – making clothes appear nicer than they really are. Girls know this, which is why they always go shopping with friends.

Trying on some of the selections including the jeans that don’t fit properly.

I bought the cardigan, the jeans, and the burgundy t shirt. One month on, I’ve not felt too many changes from my re-invigorated wardrobe. I’ve worn the black cardigan a few times and I’m sad to see that the wool has already started to run. The jeans are not a close fit, which is so disappointing. After trying them on in the fitting rooms, they felt fine, but now I can’t wear them without a belt. It seems that most designers think men’s waists fit neatly in increments of two inches, and provide nothing for men in between. Also, its common for jeans to be too long – with sagging, loose hems at the ankles.

That’s something I should have really paid attention to at the fitting. I’m now left with some jeans which don’t fit me, that I can’t return. They’ve been worn too much to meet the store’s stringent return policies. If I sold them through ebay, I’d be lucky to make a tenner on them.  I’ve had more luck with the Sandro cardigan. It’s a close fit, though a little short at the waist. It’s really unforgiving on the stomach and makes me aware constantly that I need to lose weight. The second time I wore it to the club, I managed to dance with the most beautiful Brazilian in the place, a result I owe to the gorgeousness of the piece. But after a few weeks, I’ve noticed that it’s started to pill slightly, even without being washed. So, would I recommend a wardrobe makeover? Possibly, but please keep the receipts, and remember, stores won’t accept worn or marked items.

To book the wardrobe makeover at Selfridges, please go to:

Film Review: Elisa’s Day (2020)

Elisa’s Day.

Shown at London East Asia Film Festival

Hong Kong, the present day. Officer Fai is taking a fishing boat with a colleague to Tuen Man. We flash back to 1996. Naïve but pretty teenager is attached to her young boyfriend. But when she becomes pregnant, she keeps the baby instead of having an abortion. When things become financially difficult, the father gets involved with triads, and commits a crime so terrible he is forced to escape to Thailand.

Shown as part of the festival’s Hong Kong strand, the film is more a social-realist drama than an action film. It’s one that roots the police officer as the moral center of the film, but he acts in ways that are less than perfect. At the same time, he acts as a father figure to Elisa and her young daughter. First-time director Alan Fung tries to show how tragic events can re-occur if society does not intervene. If parents cannot raise children, then others must do what they can to make sure that the mistakes of past generations do not re-occur. So, when Fai’s associate wants to arrest the husband, he prevents it because he doesn’t want to break up the family and see the child become orphaned.

Shooting in grey, largely avoiding any sense of style, the film feels very cold and flat. Unfortunately, it’s not helped by a very plodding soundtrack that doesn’t do anything for the film’s overall tone. The film’s structure is unnecessarily complicated from being told over 20 years and means that the characters age unconvincingly. More problematic is the treatment of the supposed main character Elisa. Seemingly in love with her daughter, she inexplicably goes from an innocent teen to a cold-hearted prostitute in a couple of years. This change would be believable if the director had given the girl a solid sense of personality to work with, but she’s an almost one-dimensional female figure, little more than cliché. The father is not much better fleshed out. Does he really love the girl, or is he just hanging around because he feels he has to? If he has a sense of love for the mother of his child, it never came through.

There are some things I liked about the film. When the girl is due to meet her partner, Officer Fai tracks her down to a cinema (where she goes to meet men for sex). It’s there, in the film’s foyer, that he meets the kindly Aunt Bo. We’re in the nineties, so the cinema has posters for the Truman Show and Goodwill Hunting. Seeing Aunt Bo playing with the little girl reminds him that she used to look after him. Calling her mom, we realise that the cop was abandoned by his own parents. His interest in the teenaged girl stems from wanting to do everything he can to make sure that the child is not left to the mercies of the streets, as he was.

But as we see in the tragic events of the second half, his power can only go so far in protecting them from what seems like inevitability of fate. Overall, the film is slow, plodding and often uninspired. In the right hands, it could have been very powerful, but its handling is too dull to fully engross us in the lives of the characters.

In Cantonese, with English subtitles

Kung Fool

Why Shang Chi is the worst Marvel Film

As far as I’m concerned, the film is a dud. ALsmost no real excitement is generated from it’s bizarre time-crossing scenario. It’s been said that Marvel has a problem with featuring Asian characters, but this film fails to do for Asians what Black Panther did for black people.

Here are the reasons why I hated this movie:

  1. Slow start. What was the point of the half hour spent showing us how boring the main character’s life is?
  2. Awkwafina. What was she doing in the movie? She doesn’t provide anything to add to the story, neither does she perform any kung fu.
  3. Script. I was groaning most of the time from the leaden and clunky dialogue.
  4. where’s the kung fu? Apart from the bus sequence, where Shang uses a metal pole to take out some villains, he simply stands around the whole time.
  5. the CGI made most scenes look totally unbelievable.
  6. There’s no romance whatsoever. Compare to a film about martial arts which was full of action, spectacle and love – Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon.
  7. Simu Liu – totally unsuited to the part. Why not cast a Chinese born actor who can convincingly speak Mandarin?
  8. The music – thumping bass heavy chords just got louder during supposedly exciting scenes.
  9. The film’s obvious pandering to Chinese audiences mean that the villain isn’t able to be seen as showing Chinese people in a bad light, so it means he comes across totally non-threateningly, and bland.

Meetup failure

Hi everyone.

today I had the fortune (or misfortune) of attending a Japanese meetup group in London. I very rarely attend organised meetings set up online. I enjoy meeting new people but I often find these planned group activities to be fairly awkward.

I enjoyed a group called Japan dating because I was bored and I like the possibility, however small, of being able to meet attractive Japanese ladies. The meetup group in question had over 900 members in all, so I felt sure that it should have been worth my time.

Anyway, I went to London to join the group for the first time. I was having doubts of the choice of venue, which was a very rundown cafe in London somewhere. I suspect that the organiser got some kind of commission for hosting it there or something.

Because I had some commitments earlier in the day, I wasn’t able to arrive at the planned time, which was 12pm. In my experience of previous events, I have found that members can arrive at different times throughout the day without it being a problem.

I arrived before 1, to an almost empty restaurant, I was so tempted to go back but I gritted my teeth and carried on. I was led to a table where the host, Andre, showed himself to be a very strange man with a speech impediment. I immediately found it hard to accept him as the manager of the group or that he could have had much experience of dating Japanese women.

I introduced myself to the two Japanese members of the group. Everytime I tried to answer a question, Andre would cut in. Soon, I grew tired of listening to his inane questions. I told him politely that I wanted the opportunity to talk with the members, which is why I was there in the first place.

He immediately became angry, and started to berate me, asking me to explain why I was late, and that I should have let him know if I was not going to be on time.

I apologised, but he carried on in the same vein. He then told me that he would ban me from future events and that I was an idiot. I was about to walk out, but thankfully he left after that, leaving me in peace to eat my lunch and chat to my new friends. It wasn’t very pleasant, and I was left with the impression of a narcissistic individual who arranged the meetups for his own ego.

I know I should have told him that I was late, but it was still a big effort for me to attend his meeting in the first place.

I leave you to decide who was right in this situation. Perhaps you have some interesting meetup stories yourself?

Top-notch Thai street food in Surrey

Chim’s  Thai Restaurant

There are a lot of restaurants that can serve THAI FOOD, but most of it is kind of a watered down approach. I mean, I ate in Busaba about ten years ago when it was one of the first THAI Chains, and it was nothing special, but maybe if you’ve never been to Thailand, you’d enjoy it.

A lot of food in Thailand is eaten by roadsides, because the weather is so hot, people crowd around plastic tables and sit around for hours drinking and piling tables high with plates and bowls. Even when it comes to street food, you can get some really amazing food from vendors selling pork broths and skewers. Usually, it’s just one dish that they have been cooking for years and years.

Now you can find some good Thai food if you go to Giggling Squid , but if you want something that is reminiscent of the food they actually eat in Thailand, you can go to a wonderful Surrey restaurant. Chim’s avoids the cliched image of Thai restaurants, there are no plastic buddhas or elephant sculptures. It’s just a bare restaurant with minimal design, but everything has been carefully set up for you to really experience Thai food in it’s totality.

The first thing you notice when you get the menu is how varied the food is. Most people are familiar with Pad THAI and curries. And if you want them, you can get them here. I first tasted their food when I odered their Massaman curry over the grim lockdown period. It came studded with tender pieces of sweet potato that I at first ssumed to be lumps of fat. The curry had been simmered for hours to create a velvety smooth broth.

When I came to eat last Saturday, I was looking for the kind of food I wouldn’t be able to make at home.

A common idea about Thai food is that it is very spicy, but many of the dishes here are more subtle. Take the Isaan sausage, which is fermented and served with peanuts. It’s not fatty but it was still juicy, and it turned on its head the idea that sausages are cheaply made and processed.

Picture shows Nam Sausage, Tofu and Crispy noodles

I ordered Tofu Larb, because in the right hands it can be excellent. Rather than the overused Thai basil, it came with fresh mint, and red onions – a deliciously summery salad. I remembered that larb is a popular dish in some parts of northern Thailand and I meant to ask why they had used tofu instead of beef or pork, but I forgot to ask the server. After this healthy opener, I needed something richer to follow it. I ordered deep fried squid, because you have to order at least one seafood dish when eating Thai food. The squid came in some insanely sweet tamarind marinade that nearly broke out of the batter, but was awesome anyway. And I think this one had some grapefruit segments in, maybe because they couldn’t get any pomelo (it is a challenge to find the correct ingredients). By this point I was buzzing from the Italian chardonnay and the huge array of flavours, but I wanted more.

Deep fried squid with grapefruit and peanuts

After reading the list of curries available, I was most interested in the Hinlay from Burma. It came in a blue china bowl decorated with roasted peanuts and fronds of coriander; I inhaled the fragrance of fish sauce and turmeric and my heart pounded in anticipation.

Hinlay Curry

The curry itself was gloriously thick, but what stood out were the slices of caramelised plantain that studded the dish. Beside it I had a bowl of virgin white coconut rice that I used to soak up the curry…. One glass of Singha beer on draft and that was me done, in just under two hours I had tasted the real heart of thai cuisine and I had only tried a small section of the menu. I was going to have to return.

In the end, I went back two more times. Like a film that you re-watch to get more meaning, I wanted to see what else the kitchens could offer, and it turned out there were more surprises. Street food often means food that is drunk with alcohol, so I wanted to try one of their cocktails.

Whisky Sour with tamarind

Tamarind Whisky sour put a spin on the classic and made an excellent accompaniment to my deep fried tofu. But on the third visit, I was most taken with the Thai Tea-rimasu. Not enough people appreciate how good Thai tea can be. Redder than Chinese tea, it’s often drunk in sweetened form with condensed milk and sugar. But here, they use it’s bright flavour in a truly brilliant dish that is in many ways nicer than a standard tiramasu dessert.

Thai Tea-ramisu

If you go to Chim’s, you get the sense of dishes that have evolved over time. But it’s nothing serious or boring, like a dish that people are too scared to adapt. The basic ingredients may not change, but each time you try the dishes you will get something new from them.

A reminder of my most recent dinner at the restaurant.

Indonesia is the place to see this year

My travel destination this year is Indonesia. With more than six UNESCO designations it has the highest of any Asian country, and manages to provide a year’s worth of highlights in one trip.

Here are some of the places and activities I would like to see once international travel is possible in Indonesia.


Known as a tropical paradise around the world, Bali is the most visited part of Indonesia. In fact, Bali is one of two islands that are considered to be world class – Lombok is the quieter one. People go to Bali for all kinds of purposes. Watesports and scuba diving are some of the most popular pastimes. Famous TV chef Anthony Bourdain made a documentary about the food, see picture below.

Ubud in Bali is known as a home to several famous yoga retreats and upscale resorts, in fact the whole island is home to some incredible hotels such as The Legian in Seminyak.

You can also stay very reasonably in a villa for 20 dollars a night. as well as the luxury and splendour of the resorts you can find centres of spirituality, such as the famous Uluwata Temple.

Komodo Island

Home to the biggest lizard’s in the world. Komodo Island can only be visited with a tour guide, and its very dangerous to get to close to the man-eating dragons.

Mount Merapi

The still active volcano erupted last year.


The bustling city is home to more than eight million people and would be a good place to start your trip, assuming you don’t mind heavy traffic and crowds. You can find some great food here.


“The friendliest people you can ever meet” according to Trevor Noah, who visited Bali in 2018. Indonesians are a diverse mix of ethnicities and cultures: the national language is Bahasa but Javanese is spoken in Java. There are Chinese Indonesians, moslems, Christians and Buddhists.

Music and culture

The Raid made a big impression five years ago, and the music of Indonesia that is most common is gamelan.


  • a guide to some of the best places in Birmingham’s Chinese Quarter.

People visit Birmingham for many reasons. Some come for the sporting events. Others might visit because of the massive indoor Expos that are held at the NEC. Personally, I visited Birmingham because of it’s Chinese Quarter, or Chinatown. England’s 2nd largest city has an area of three streets which are full of Asian restaurants, bars, the occasional nightclub, and even a Wetherspoon’s.  The area is located just outside the city’s main train station, Birmingham New Street. After a night in the chaotic Broad Street area, I wanted to experience something more authentic. True, there are some Indian restaurants there which were doing a good trade, but most of the restaurants near my hotel were exactly the same chain-type places you will find up and down the country.

Getting there

As you leave the station, you can see the brown tourist signs directing you to the Chinese Quarter. it’s easy to go the wrong way, but if you come out of the station at the main entrance you can see Hirst road right in front of you. This is where the Chinese Quarter proper begins.

There is a rather lovely looking restaurant with a green-tiled roof (China Court Restaurant) on Edgbaston Street. Next to it is another traditional Cantonese restaurant – Chung Ying.

Chung Ying was the first Chinese restaurant to open here

As you walk along Hirst Street, you notice that most of the buildings have Chinese characters. You can’t miss a very large three-storey building houses Ming Moon, which caters to the Chinese love of gambling.

Further along, there is a branch of the very popular Happy Lemon bubble tea café.

Perhaps you wouldn’t expect to see a traditional pub, but that is what you get, although the styling of the Wetherspoon’s in this area blends in with its name and building’s façade.

If you feel that the street has a slightly faded air, which it does, you can take a left to the modern Arcadian area in Ladywell Way. This is a car-free zone. The restaurants cater to a younger crowd, with a few non-Asian venues such as Las Iguanas.

On show in the centre of the square was a stunning lantern display. As part of the marketing for the film Over the Moon (based on a Chinese fairy tale) Netflix has designed 26 handmade lanterns with characters from the film. Far from being showy and over the top like the Christmas lights in London, these were intricately decorated and looked even more magical in the evening when they were individually illuminated. At nighttime this would be a wonderful place to eat, especially if you can sit outside.

This area is home to a wonderful patisserie with cookies and cakes form Taiwan and Hong Kong – which are clearly made fresh everyday.

Coming back to Hirst Road takes you to an excellent Chinese restaurant which offers Dim Sum in the mornings and then Sichuan cuisine. This region of China is known for its red and black pepper which is pleasantly numbing. Many of the dishes incorporate tofu – eg mapo tofu or Salt and pepper tofu.

Walking still further down, you come to Korean and Japanese restaurants. It’s quite likely that these are still owned and run by Chinese restaurateurs who want to cater for those in the area who happen to like other Asian cuisines as well as traditional Chinese.

As the road goes down past the Glee club, there are student bars and nightclubs, and it seems to have become home to the gay population of Birmingham.

Whatever your thoughts on that, make sure you come to this part of Birmingham when you next visit.

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